What Oakland is Missing

In the Oakland Conduit’s most recent Survey Monkey poll, the Conduit asked, “What is Oakland missing? Does it need a light rail system? Does the Downtown need a department store? Let us know what the city is lacking.”

People were not shy with their answers. 

“Shopping in general. No Target, Kohls, Macy's.”

“Public bank, public transportation (light rail is a great idea), parks maintained and improved, housing, jobs (not necessarily in that order). No big box stores.”

“Clean streets, homeless encampment decreased and facilities where teens can feel comfortable going, such as a game room or free movies put on by the city. Yes, this is my dream for us Oaklanders.”

“Affordable housing, a just and equitable police department.”

“Oakland is missing a light rail or rapid transit system between major neighborhoods (Fruitvale, Diamond, West Oakland, North Oakland, Piedmont Avenue) to Downtown or other commercial areas. Oakland is also missing small grocery stores--few people can walk or bike to get fresh produce.”

“As we consider developing the Oakland Downtown/Jack London Square, the community needs a grocery store and top-tier department stores.”

“Oakland needs a light rail system connecting Jack London and Emeryville.”

“Smooth streets that you can bike on without your wheel being thrown out of alignment.”

“Clean streets” 

“Oakland should never go back to light rail. We can't afford it.” 

“Department store downtown, of course! A grocery store in Jack London.”

“Copy shops”

“A Lowe's Hardware would be nice.”

“A department store, please. More buses, cleaner BART stations and cars, thanks.”

“Grocery store in Jack London Square” 

“I would like to see Oakland have more community centers, homeless shelters, and a shopping mall. We could also use vouchers for home renovation with the housing department. Too many condemned buildings not being put to use as shelter.” 

“Small-house and services village for the homeless and mentally ill at the Coliseum site.”

“Light rail, even more attention to bikes, such as bike stop-and-go lights, bike signage for when to yield, maybe even an ‘unsafe street for bikes’ on some roads.”

“Oakland needs a department store downtown. We need a nice shopping mall at Eastmont Mall with department stores and a grocery store with fresh meat, vegetables, etc.” 

“Pothole-free streets. Affordable housing. Downtown department store and other retail. Town square with an outdoor cafe. The return of Festival at the Lake.”

“Vibrant entertainment district.”

“A light rail system; all-electric buses; no fares for public transportation; more garbage cans; portable toilets everywhere.”

“Quality affordable housing along transit corridors. Scarce transit dollars should be funneled to increased frequency, increased security and comfort, and better transfer connections (as MacArthur corridor to Telegraph corridor) of buses rather than expensive rail transit.”

“The new Bus Rapid Transit system that will (relatively) soon start service to East Oakland will be great. And if one could be built to serve North Oakland, that would be terrific. Downtown definitely needs more retail options. The few small pioneering businesses like Laurel Bookstore are not going to survive unless there is a critical mass to attract a lot more shoppers with some disposable income. A TJ Maxx to replace one of the drugstore spaces on 14th Street would complement pretty well. And because it offers a wider range of apparel and housewares than the GAP, for instance, it should do well, and would serve a lot of the new residents moving into the downtown area in the next few years.”

“Definitely light rail on International, San Pablo, Telegraph, McArthur. AC Transit actually does a very decent job, but many of these corridors have severely underused land that could provide much-needed housing without major neighborhood impacts, AND when paired with rapid transit could ease the strain on BART.”

"Downtown department stores are essentially dead, but there needs to be more residential downtown in order to make it a safer, more 24-hour place. PARKS!!!!!! This city constantly amazes me in its lack of good parks, especially treed neighborhood parks. We need to buy up some crummy properties—old bad retail spots, apartment buildings on their last legs, houses that are beyond salvation—do some demolition and soil remediation work, and plant some trees and grass | Relatedly, we need to do something meaningful about the homeless populations. More shelters, and especially more transitional housing.” 

“First and foremost, the city needs to focus on quality housing for middle-low, low and very-low income families and individuals. The current state of private rental property is in dire straights. We need all-inclusive rent control, including single-family homes that have been on the rental market for longer than five years. Oakland also needs to focus its efforts on underserved neighborhoods to bring in more grocers that carry quality products, organic selections, fresh fruits and vegetables, cleaning and paper products without price-gouging those of lower means. In addition, public safety is paramount. Underserved neighborhoods such as Eastmont Hills, Havenscourt, etc. all need an increase in police presence, as well as shotspotters [technology for gunshot detection]…There is frequent gunfire in the area and people have found bullets in the roofs [and] sides of their homes and vehicles. Those out for a quiet walk have been close to being run down by speeders. Dumping is a major problem in underserved areas and their environs. We need to have free Dumpsters set up in strategic areas on a quarterly basis. Oakland wants to be a city that prides itself on livability where people love to live, work and play. When the city makes deals with developers who will exclude affordable housing in their projects, such as the Oak Knoll SunCal plan, we all lose. By not addressing all of these issues, Oakland is telling the Bay Area, the state of California and the entire country that we are satisfied with our current but losing, state of affairs.”